Kolkata: As the entire city is in the grip of festive fervour during the four days of Durga Puja, patients and physically-challenged people are soaking in the fun to get rid of their problems.
Born as a blind child, Sanjay Singh, 25, who lives on the northern fringes of the city, never had an opportunity to feel what Durga Puja meant till last year.
With the help of a first of its kind Braille puja guide, he and his group of friends led by their teacher from a blind school went for their maiden pandal hopping this time.
"Visually impaired students of our organisation felt deeply fascinated with this innovative technique of Braille Durga Puja Guide when they realised that they could also go for easy pandal-hopping this year without asking for others to support," Debajyoti Roy, secretary of National Institute of Professionals (NIP), said.
He pointed out that such initiatives help align the underprivileged section with the mainstream of the society.     

The NGO has distributed the Braille puja guide free to blind schools and students.
Under the Forum for Durgotsab, around 150 Puja committees have come together to make their pandals friendlier for differently-abled and senior citizens.
They have appointed some volunteers to help the physically challenged visitors, provide wheelchairs and ramps at the entry and exit that would help them to stroll with ease.
NIP has also sensitised organisers to assist the elderly people in overcrowded situations in pandals.
Fortis Hospitals, on the other hand, came up with a special initiative where they have involved those people who even a few months back, could not have thought of getting back to their day-to-day normal life due to crippling joint pain.
Acclaimed Bengali film director Srijit Mukherji and famous designer Agnimitra Paul flagged off their tour to various pandals in the city and even accompanied the patients.
One of the patients, Kalyani Sill said, "It was a memorable experience. Our Puja was made very special."
Similarly, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute organised a 'Puja Parikrama' with their 100 poor children who are suffering from thalassemia and blood cancer.
"We took them to ten major Puja pandals in the city so that they also can enjoy the festivities just like all other children. With their illness, they never get to be a part of the mainstream festive fun. Durga Puja comes as a medicine for them as they learn how to live life with fun and frolic," said Dr Ashis Mukhopadhyay, institute's director.


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